Pandora Andrea Gastelum is a puppeteer,
costume designer, writer and performer. She graduated with honors from
New York University where she was an awarded essayist and playwright
and where she ultimately received a B.F.A. in Theatre, double majoring
in the Sociology of Gender. She has studied directing and acting for
the stage at La Pietra in Florence and marionette arts under Jan Unger
in Prague, Czech Republic. Miss Gastelum spent one year training as
an embalmer, studying anatomy and physiology, pathology and comparative
religion at the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service
in New York. She has worked as a puppeteer, mask and costume designer,
and special effects artist both On- and Off- Broadway in New York City.
She is co-founder/ co-artistic director of The Black Forest Fancies
Non-profit Theatre Collective in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has written
and performed with this troupe for five years, touring through venues
across the continental U.S. Pandora was awarded an artist residency
for Fall-Winter 2006-07 at Patravadi Theatre in Bangkok Thailand, where
she worked closely with actors and acrobats teaching puppet and mask
fabrication and studying Thai performance. She enjoys an annual residency
at The Dream Community in Taipei, Taiwan where she is builds giant puppets
and costumes for the summer parade season and instructs at community
workshops on creating art from recycled materials. During the school
year she teaches these skills in New Orleans public schools through
The Black Forest Fancies. Miss Gastelum was orphaned in 2007. It became
her central focus to recover from devastation alongside New Orleans.
She bought a Katrina- damaged property and, working alongside her friends
and community members, renovated it from the ground- up for a full year.
The space is called The Mudlark Public Theatre. "Mudlark"
is a Depression- era term for orphan. The Mudlark opened with a cutting-edge
cabaret on Halloween Weekend to sold-out houses. The Mudlark hosts regular
movie nights, musical events and a diverse array of local and touring
theatre. Miss Gastelum is a two time recipient of artist’s service
awards from the Louisiana Division of the Arts and has used these funds
to participate in multiple International Theatre Festivals. At these
festivals she has encountered advancements in puppetry at their source
and formed strong relationships with collaborators she now hopes to
host at the Mudlark Public Theatre.